Stand against Ordinance 30
A group of about 85 concerned citizens met Thursday night to discuss the recently enacted far-reaching Aspen City Ordinance 30, which applies to all property more than 30 years old. The new law prohibits any minor or major alterations to the exterior of 30-plus year old homes or buildings, until studied for potential historic designation, regardless of the owner’s wishes. The ordinance – passed as an “emergency” measure – destroys flexibility, value and enjoyment of the homes of hundreds of citizens in Aspen, particularly those with the older, less expensive homes. As an informal group, we adopted the following common principles and proposals, which we will express to City Council at their work session tonight, on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 5 p.m.Our principles Ordinance 30 was enacted without appropriate public input and in effective violation of numerous campaign promises. Ordinance 30 represents bad governance process and bad historic preservation process, which we cannot support. We value Aspen’s rich heritage and support our history’s careful and diligent preservation. Strong historic preservation regulations and programs should be built with the thoughtful input of Aspen’s citizens in ways that honor, not degrade, the importance of historic preservation in Aspen. Programs should encourage ownership of historic properties. Nationally recognized standard of 50 years, rather than 30, should be Aspen’s general baseline for beginning to consider properties as potential historic resources. Historic preservation regulations and incentives should not be used to address other legitimate land use concerns (construction issues, zoning, design guidelines or pace of development.) All historically important public buildings should be preserved with public funds. Appropriate and updated incentives should be offered to property owners to encourage historic preservation and ongoing maintenance. (Incentives should reflect local 20th century lot and building conditions.) Historic designation of property occur ONLY with the owner’s support and consent. Ordinance 30 is burdensome and punitive to property owners, discouraging ownership and maintenance of older properties (designated or not), making them undesirable to own, and, thus, counterproductive to goals of Aspen’s historic preservation. Ordinance 30 has numerous negative unintended consequences, which work counter to Aspen’s core values and preservation goals. Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission should be significantly involved in all policy decisions related to Aspen’s Historic Preservation program.Proposals1. Based on the above principles, we request immediate action of City Council as follows:Ordinance 30 should be immediately repealed in order to create a thoughtful, voluntary program of historic preservation of important structures more than 50 years old. Program should have financially sound incentives for designation, and strict, demanding criteria requiring architectural integrity and ongoing maintenance.2. Interim Measure to Protect Historic PropertiesWhile Council, HPC and public collaborate to craft a new historic preservation program, we propose a six-month interim measure to protect properties of potential historical significance. All requests for demolition or building permits would be reviewed by Community Development department to determine if potentially significant structures are at risk.Each property would be evaluated according to the current criteria and standards. If property deemed not historically significant, permitting could proceed immediately.If property was deemed potentially significant, a review process including HPC and Council would be required to 1) allow permitting; 2) delay permit until final preservation regulation adopted; or 3) allow historic designation with owner concurrence.(The interim period would also allow for voluntary designation as well as owner-initiated determination as allowed under the present system.)3. Study of Economic Impact on Property ValueWe request that HPC, in conjunction with City Council, appoint a special purpose committee to review the expected economic impact on property values of historic designation of 20th century properties in the Aspen market.We request that the committee be comprised of subject matter experts including, but not limited to, local real estate professionals, appraisers experienced with Aspen market, appraisers expert in residential historic properties, property owners, mortgage lenders, residential architects, planners and developers. External resource to be used in data collection and presentation preparation.Their report to be delivered to HPC. HPC to submit report to council and public.Please write or call our City Council members to let them know of your support of our requests. Most important, please attend the work session tonight, Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 5 p.m., to let your opinion be heard. If you want more information or our meeting notes, please call 429-1153.Jack Wilke is a resident of Aspen.
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